MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

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MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:33 pm

We interview bigfoot researcher Daniel Perez on the Skookum cast - which some say is among the best evidence for bigfoot.
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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby busterggi » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:28 pm

I've got to re-listen to it tonight as I was a bit groggy when I first heard it. I was glad that Perez said he couldn't make anything out in the impression - I've never been able to make anything out despite all the reading I've done thats pointed out the 'obvious' heelprint, etc.

It didn't help Jeff Meldrum's reputation any that he hasn't yet replied to your request for comments. Maybe you need to offer him an entire show.

Or maybe Gef Meldrum could do it?

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DDA » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:54 pm

Both Brad and Daniel got a few things wrong and of course spin a story to meet their own opinions on things.

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:29 pm

DDA wrote:Both Brad and Daniel got a few things wrong and of course spin a story to meet their own opinions on things.


Is Brad B+Radford?

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:33 pm

This is an interesting post from previous MT guest Matt Crowley which I'mreposting from the JREF boards:
I don't know if the original files of Bigfoot Forums were ever restored or not. Deep within the original files, Noll uploaded a photograph of a polymeric intermediate cast being made of the original Hydrocal B-11 cast. If I remember correctly, Noll removed all his uploaded photographs from that site, and even if the original thread was restored, the photograph may be missing. From that polymeric intermediate two casts were made, a male and a female duplicate of the original.

These final duplicates were fiber-reinforced plastic, and thus presented much less burden and risk as far as transportation and presentation than the original.

Lost in the wash of words surrounding Anton's analysis was WHY the copies were made in the first place, and by whom. Chris Murphy personally told me that John Green felt that the Patterson film did not properly sway scientists when it came out. Green felt that the Skookum cast might be able to do so instead. Thus it was Green who paid the allegedly high costs for duplication of the original. According to Murphy, Green wanted the cast copies transported around to universities for analysis by scientists. The sad irony for Green is that he got his wish, though obviously not the conclusion he wanted.

Being that Perez is most certainly a Bigfoot advocate, it's not surprising that he has little or no knowledge of the analysis within the professional ichnology community. Perez doesn't need an "elk guy" to perform a proper analysis, it's already been done. Buried within the original Bigfoot Forums thread was the analysis of of Mark Elbroch, considered one of the WORLD'S finest ichnologists:

http://wildlifetrackers.com/markelbroch/

Not surprisingly, Elbroch came to the same conclusion as did Wroblewski, namely that it's an impression of a large cervid.

Clearly there are a variety of reasons why Meldrum may have refused to respond to MonsterTalk's request for comment; another might be that Meldrum's analysis is the laughing stock of professional ichnologists.

While Chilcutt may or may not have examined the original cast, he most certainly examined high quality 3D reproductions. I personally witnessed one in Chilcutt's possession in Texas. While Chilcutt's position on the subject may have changed over time, he most certainly put "dermal ridges" on the cast.

Perhaps because Perez is a Bigfoot advocate, he chooses to take the analysis of Henner Fahrenbach as his smoking gun.

This is one of the fundamental problems with the whole Bigfoot field; namely that they form a cult-like clique, and often fail to obtain professional analysis from those whose opinions have real world weight. Not surprisingly, those professionals are usually OUTSIDE the Bigfoot clique.

The Skookum Elk Cast got as far as it did because Meldrum, et al, failed to consult professional ichnologists in the first place.


I found the info there on ichnologists to be very interesting. Per Wikipedia:
Ichnology is the branch of geology that deals with traces of organismal behavior, such as burrows and footprints. It is generally considered as a branch of paleontology; however, only one division of ichnology, paleoichnology, deals with trace fossils, while neoichnology is the study of modern traces. Parallels can often be drawn between modern traces and trace fossils, helping scientists to decode the possible behavior and anatomy of the trace-making organisms even if no body fossils can be found. An ichnologist is a scientist whose area of study and research is ichnology.

Ichnologic studies are based on the discovery and analysis of biogenic structures: features caused by living organisms. Thus, burrows, trackways, trails and borings are all examples of biogenic structures, but not casts or molds of dead shells or other bodily remains. To keep body and trace fossils nomenclatorially separate, ichnospecies are erected for trace fossils. Ichnotaxa are classified somewhat differently in zoological nomenclature than taxa based on body fossils (see trace fossil classification for more information).

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DDA » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:42 pm

I know quite a bit about the cast and what has been written and studied on it. I can almost say for certain that Mark Elbroch did not examine the cast, the imprint or talk with any member of the expedition. I did approach him though through email and received a curt reply after viewing the BFRO web site on the subject that he would need to see it in person to make any determination. I still have that email.

Yeah Brad... Ben Radford. I like the guy but he needs more information before saying things...

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:57 pm

It is possible that Matt is misremembering the post by Anton - which is now deleted from bigfoot forums - but which follows:
http://www.bigfootforums.com/index.p...dpost&p=326297

Quote:
Here's a preliminary report (written in classic, dry scientific style...my apologies), with accompanying first-draft figures of my study of the Skookum Cast. I want to stress that I traced out only those features that exist on the cast, and made no interpretation of them until after I was done with the photowork. This is standard practice is straigraphic geology, where we work with photopanels of outcrops, trace surfaces and features, then double-check them on the actual outcrop or specimens. This serves as a safety-check and helps correct errors made from 2-d images. The interpretation shown here is preliminary, and a newer one exists, but I still need to double check a couple of minor features. I know plenty of people will disagree with this study, and that's fine. All I can say is, look at the specimen yourself if you get a chance, and remember Occam's Razor!

Introduction
The “Skookum Cast” as it has become widely known is a Hydrocal plaster specimen of a body imprint collected in September, 2000 by Rick Noll, members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and a television documentary crew. Although nothing has been formally published on the specimen, it has been touted as representing some of the best available evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. Yet no formal study or detailed interpretation of the cast has been published since its discovery.
The purpose of this study was to examine the slab and couterslab of the Skookum Cast in order to: 1) document the occurrence of footprints, body prints, and hair flow patterns; 2) compare these traces to known animal sign in an effort to identify the makers; and 3) evaluate previous claims that the Skookum Cast represents clear evidence for the existence of a large, hairy, non-human, North American hominid.

Materials and Methods
The cast and counterslab of the “Skookum Cast” were examined in detail, and high-resolution photographs were shot for use in photo-interpretative work. Interpretations were digitally traced directly over the photos, and later compared to the actual specimens to verify the details. First-order surfaces are those that are readily apparent, 3-d shapes in the cast, exhibiting textures and morphologies characteristic of animal traces and were traced in a heavy line. Second-order surfaces include hair patters and surficial textures and were traced in a lighter-weight line. All surfaces were traced and compared to the specimen, and no attempt was made during the tracing to interpret structures, morphologies, or the originator of the trace. Only upon completion of the tracing exercise were the results compared to casts of tracks of known animals, and also published examples of animal tracks and sign (see Elbroch, 2003).

Results
In addition to the large body trace evident in the cast, four elk hoof prints, at least seven canid prints, and two boot prints are visible (Figs. 1, 2). Hair flow patterns are clearly preserved over much of the body trace, and match the pattern of flow in resting traces of large, hoofed mammals, including elk (see Figs. 1, 2). Although dermatoglyphic ridges have been informally reported on the “heel”, here interpreted as the wrist, none were evident to me during examination of the specimen. The elk hoof prints exhibit the characteristic rounded anterior margin and emarginated posterior margin of the species’ hoof morphology and are deeply impressed into the mud, ranging from 2-5 cm in depth.
The canid track was formed after the elk had moved away from the area as demonstrated by the superimposition of the canid’s prints over the main body imprint. The boot prints were left by the researchers at the site.

Discussion
The Skookum Cast appears to be a perfect example of forcing data to fit a pre-formed conclusion. In this case, the researchers were out to find evidence of Bigfoot, and this colored their interpretation of the evidence. Despite the complete lack of any Bigfoot prints on any part of the specimen, or in the immediate vicinity, the Skookum Cast continues to be lauded as some of the best evidence available for the existence of large, non-human North American hominids. Elk hoof prints found in direct association with the body imprint, combined with the very characteristic hair flow patterns readily apparent on the imprint immediately suggest that the specimen represents an elk lay (see Elbroch, 2003 for a discussion of the characteristics of ungulate lays).
The elk body print clearly evident in the Skookum Cast reveals the animal’s flank, butt, thigh, knee, shin, and metatarsals in precisely the areas where they would be expected (see Elbroch, 2003; Fig. 2). The curvature so readily apparent in the anterior impression of the elk’s thigh and knee were interpreted as the imprint of the gluteus maximus of a large hominid by at least some of the researchers who examined the cast (Murphy, 2004). The metatarsal imprints were likewise interpreted as the forearm of a hominid, and the imprints of the wrist and metacarpus became a “heel imprint.” The paired wrist and metacarpus imprints are characteristic of elk, deer, and other ungulate lay traces (see Elbroch, 2003). Significantly, the lack of hoof prints directly within the outline of the main body print is exactly what is seen in deer, elk, and other ungulate lays (see Elbroch, 2003). Hoof prints found outside the main body outline, but related to the forelegs reveal how the animal stood up.
Since none of the previous interpretations of the Skookum Cast have been formally published, it is impossible to evaluate all the claims surrounding the specimen. Nor is it possible to determine from the available information whether any of the researchers involved in its analysis have actually compared the specimen to known elk lays. There is little doubt that anyone actually making a comparison between the Skookum Cast and an elk lay would find the resemblance absolutely compelling. To this end, it is perhaps significant that a young couple examining the cast at a recent exhibition looked at it for roughly three seconds before the young lady summed up her interpretation in a mild Texas accent: “It looks just like a cow.”

Conclusions
The main body of the Skookum Cast represents a near-perfect body outline of an elk. The flanks, butt, thigh, knee, shin, metatarsals, metacarpals, wrist, and possible head imprints are all clearly visible and in exactly the position in which they’d be expected. The position of the hoof prints demonstrates how the animal raised itself up from its resting position. At some later time, a coyote walked through the site, and finally, the site was visited by the researchers and a cast made.

References Cited

Elbroch, M., 2003, Mammal Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 779 p.

Murphy, C. L., 2004, Meet the Sasquatch, Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, WA, 239 p.

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:59 pm

As you can see, Elbroch was definitely quoted - but this was 2006 and was deleted and Matt might be misremembering. I'll ask him. (And as you can see from this - he was CITED on his expertise as an Ichnologist, not for comments on the cast itself - which supports your assertion.)

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby idoubtit » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:03 pm

Blake et al.,
Good info. I appreciated Dan coming on and presenting himself as an open-minded, conscientious researcher. A few comments…

First, the most important point brought up in the episode, illustrated by Ben's denial of access to the cast, is the lack of adhering to the communal value of science (sort of mentioned in Anton's post above). In my research of these amateur investigation groups (of which I include the BRFO), their idea of being scientific is following the simplistic notion of the scientific method - that is, observe, hypothesize, experiment, formulate a theory/predict, test it, etc. Not only do I think they typically fail at this simple plan, but even the results of such processes does not make it science. Scientists subscribe to an "ethos" which consists of certain ideals. Merton described the fundamental ideals of science as communalism, universalism, disinterestedness and skepticism (see Robert Merton). A cursory evaluation of these reveals how adhering to them is crucial to science and results in scientific knowledge being of superior quality to all other ways of knowing about nature. Communalism means that data and ideas are shared. (IOW, if you hide your stuff, you might be a crank.) Universalism suggests that there is no privledged view, no one authority can dictate what is acceptable. Disinterestedness is a lack of bias and an acknowledgment of others' work. Skepticism is the responsibilty to provide constructive criticism and respond to it yourself. EPIC FAIL on all counts from groups like the BFRO. Incidentlally, Cryptomundo also will quickly remove or edit their mistakes instead of owning up to them. Thus, notable sources of crypto-information have lost their credibility with me. The BFRO shouldn’t dare call themselves scientific, yet they do.

Also, I note how awful the baiting experiment was set up. There appears to be such little foresight or thinking about what evidence they wanted to collect, what question they wanted to answer. As suggested, the design was terrible. No wonder the result was disputed. Experiments should be designed to eliminiate subjectivity (the disinterestedness as mentioned above). It appears the researchers were slow to pick up a result let alone what that result represented. Shameful. I'm not surprised Meldrum won't appear on Monster Talk. He'd have a lot of explaining to do.

I was hoping to hear something about the name "skookum" (in Skookum Meadows) as suggestive of a place where a monster exists since this word has been used in context of a Sasquatch. Do you have anything more on that?

Finally, put your mics on mute when you aren't talking or sit still. :-P

Sharon

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DDA » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:30 pm

The baiting of sites was not on the agenda for the expedition until the last few days when Thom Powell continually brought it up as a viable way of luring in an animal. There was no plan or design of experiment before or during it's execution of exactly how to carry it out and how to capture any data from these sites. I was opposed to the idea through out the expedition, only with reluctance did I get before the camera (be it thermal) to cut open a melon on a forest service road where some latent heat images were seen.

Skookum is a native American name. It means powerful but has been attributed to "evil Genii" as well. Skookum Meadows is a wildlife refuge lying between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens in southern Washington State. This area is off limits to vehicular traffic so as not to disturb elk calving and rearing. Elk and deer young are utilized by two large mammals in the state, bear and cougar, so it is thought that Sasquatch might also, or at least be attracted to the area.

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:07 pm

DDA - maybe you'll know the answer to this one: If the BFRO likes to use bait during its bigfoot hunts do current expeditions bag/preserve crumbs, cores, etc... left at highly potential encounter sites? I ask because I wonder if the saliva from the animal eating the food can be used to identify it?

I don't know if you listened to our very first ep of MonsterTalk or not, but that conversation with Todd Disotell increased my confidence that DNA evidence would be very informative even without a bigfoot body. A - hopefully I'm using the right term here - phylogenetic analysis of the DNA would show, even if it were an unknown (within the DNA analysis software) animal a comparison to other lifeforms would say primate, ursid, canid, etc...

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:00 pm

DDA - I can't post to Bigfoot Forums right now because when they restored they didn't include my account. I've tried to re-register but so far am not able to post.

BUT - I need to object to something you posted there. You said:
But back to the show... it was not live. The interviews with Ben and Daniel were heavily edited and it makes one wonder if the editing was biased seeing that the show is put on by the Skeptic web site.


Heavily edited? (emphasis mine) That is not true. And I'm not sure why you'd think you had any special insight into my editing process? To the best of my knowledge I cut out the following from the episode:
1) A bad pun about tampons (before the interview during the pre-call chat)
2) Some "ums" "uhs" "I'd like to ask" "eh" - the general extraneous chatter of casual conversation that sounds unprofessional on a podcast. I never get all of them but I take out a lot of them.
3) A sentence that Daniel said which overshared about someone not involved in the episode.
The sum of these edits doesn't change anyone's meaning, makes the episode briefer, and protects people from a terrible, terrible tampon joke.

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:03 pm

We can't post images here - but here is another elk-lay image which they're discussing over at the Bigfoot Forums.
http://i847.photobucket.com/albums/ab34/wolftrax2009/skookum-elk-comp-anim.gif

I haven't seen any drawings which show bigfoot making the same cast. DDA - do you have any that you could share here? Maybe that would help skeptics understand the skookum cast better?

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Re: MonsterTalk #032 - Is Skookum fair dinkum?

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:13 pm

Another clarification needed:
From DDA on Bigfoot Forums:

Two other items on the show...
1. LMS video was made well in advance of the book. The book was the companion, not the other way around that Ben stated.
2. The cast was not broken into pieces for extraction from the forest. It has always been in one complete piece.
Makes me wonder if both Daniel and Ben even did homework on the subject or are just reading detractors comments on it. Bags and bags of plaster... LOL.


http://www.bfro.net/NEWS/pnw_newsletter003/dayseven.asp
The BFRO website has a nice explanation of how the cast was extracted.
Obviously none of us remembered that particular page during the episode but since the site says 200 pounds of casting material and doesn't specify whether you used 1 200 pound bag or four 50 pound bags or twenty 10 pound bags - not sure how that is a crazy question? We did quote directly from their pages during the ep - so obviously we did research prior. That's a bit of a silly thing to wonder - you yourself know very well Ben tried to research and study the cast and anyone listening to the ep should be able to tease that out.

Also, I do appreciate the clarification on the video/book question. That they were separate projects I knew - but which was the "master project" I was unclear on.


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